Health Policy

Capitol Building

The Health Policy Track is designed to increase the interest, understanding, and capabilities of medical students in regard to the health policies that affect health and healthcare in the United States.

What is Health Policy?

Health Policy is a broad term that is generally used to describe the policies (laws, rules, regulations) that influence health and healthcare.  Most often, people think of health policy as the intersection of government and healthcare, but private organization and program policies are an important element of the field as well.  In addition, since many things outside of the hospital and clinic strongly influence health and well-being, health policy often includes many areas outside of traditional healthcare, e.g. public health, environmental policy, urban planning. 

Why Study Health Policy?

Regardless of your specialty area or practice location, your patient care and practice of medicine will be strongly influenced by health policy.  Some of these influences may be subtle and others will be overt.  The study of health policy will enable you recognize and potentially shape the policies that affect your practice. 

Traditionally, medical education has focused on the care of the individual patient.  The study of health policy will allow you to better understand the health system in which that care takes place.  This understanding can help you be a more effective clinician and leader.  

Health Care Reformed?

The Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare) generated much interest and controversy. Years later, the controversies are far from settled and reform of our health system is really just beginning.  This is a time of considerable change in healthcare and an exciting time to study health policy!  

Program Objectives

  • Explain US legislative process
  • Differentiate between relevant stakeholders – people, agencies, organizations, and movements – that affect health policy
  • Reflect upon the historical context of current health policy debates
  • Practice networking and seeking out health policy learning opportunities outside the university
  • Integrate knowledge base and skills to address current and future policy challenges

Meet Your Health Policy Directors

Program Activities

Required First & Second Year

  • Attend Lecture/Workshop Series
  • Participate in an Experiential Opportunity in the Summer following first year
    • Students must submit a project proposal including scope of work, a timeline, objectives/goals, and the organization/mentor with which the student will be working including contact information 
    • After project completion, students are required to submit a 4-6 page reflection paper to include the student’s project scope, the role the student played in the project, how the project changed from the original proposal, and reflections on the experience 

Other Opportunities in First & Second Year

  • Attend Congressional Hearings
  • Attend Policy Conferences

Required Third & Fourth Year

  • Scholarly Project will be related to health policy (Scholarly Project Outline Form can be downloaded HERE.)
  • Policy Elective (4-6 weeks). The elective outline must be approved by Dr. Matt Magyar and Dr. Andrea Anderson prior to starting your elective. Although the official due date is August 15th, you can and should consider earlier submission in case there are concerns with your elective selection or application that require additional revision as this could delay your elective start date. 

Other Opportunities in Third & Fourth Year

  • Attend Policy Events in the Nation’s Capitol
  • Seniors can participate in GW’s Residency Fellowship in Health Policy

Track Lecture Series

Topic Areas for Years I & II (sampling)

  • Private Insurance/Employer Based Care
  • Medicare
  • Medicaid
  • Physician Workforce
  • Pharmaceutical Policy
  • Rural Health
  • Quality of Care
  • Disparities/Health Care Safety Net
  • Behavioral Health
  • International Health
  • Health IT
  • Long Term Care

Experiential Opportunities

Summer Internships/Senior Elective Host Sites (sampling)

  • Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)
  • American Medical Student Association (AMSA)
  • U.S. Congress
  • DC Primary Care Association
  • DC Department of Health
  • GW Department of Health Policy
  • Peace Corps
  • RAND Corporation
  • Heritage Foundation
  • US Department of Health and Human Services

*Other educational opportunities and activities to enrich students’ experiences may be added to the curriculum during the program, per the discretion of the Scholarly Concentration Directors.